NAIDOC Awards Dinner
NAIDOC week 2012, Spirit of the Tent Embassy, wound up in Port Hedland last Saturday evening with the presentation of the Awards dinner hosted by Bloodwood Tree Association.
The Lifetime Achievement Award was presented to Janet Stewart, whose work in providing guidance and mentorship to hundreds of young indigenous children spanning more than three decades, with some ten years at the Warrawee Aboriginal Kindergarten & pre-school, followed by her work at the South Hedland Primary School for more than 22 years, gave young people real-life opportunities.
Janet was also involved with the establishment of the Mothers of Australia Shed (MOASH) at the primary school, a community and cultural centre catering for parents and support groups of the community, and is also a member of the Pilbara Indigenous Women’s Aboriginal Corporation and Mothers Against Drugs (MAD) group.
She also has an ongoing involvement with the Wangka Maya Aboriginal Language Centre as a consultant and interpreter, establishing Nyangumarta resources, books dictionaries and publications, and assisting with cultural awareness at both the Centre and Primary school.
Janet is a Traditional Owner and Elder of the Nyangumarta people and made a direct contribution towards the Nyangumarta Native Title determination in 2009, with the group gaining rights over some 33,843 square kilometres of traditional land.
Janice Ramirez was awarded the NAIDOC Person of the Year prize for her ongoing dedication and commitment to children’s education and well-being at the Hedland Senior High School, where she has worked tirelessly for the past 27 years, giving above and beyond her duties and ensuring assistance to the students, teachers, non-teaching staff and families within the community.
Curtis Taylor took out two awards on the evening, the Caring for Country trophy and sharing the Youth of the Year award with Nathan Ball.
Curtis was unable to attend the awards, travelling home from Brazil following an invitation to show two of his award-winning short films, while he played a large part in the canning Stock Route project with his film-making abilities renowned throughout global Indigenous communities.
Nathan Ball came to light in 2009 when he dragged an elderly man to safety from his burning home in South Hedland after hearing his screams for help, and although the man received burns to 50% of his body, his life was certainly saved by Nathan’s bravery.
Nathan went on to commit himself to learning at Pindan College which led him to secure an apprenticeship with FMG Ltd as a Mechanical fitter.
Female Elder of the Year went to Taberana Waddaman, who has over many years cared for hundreds of Hedland youth, ensuring they had a feed and a place to sleep, and last year joined with the Youth Involvement Council to provide her opinions, perspectives and suggestions to assist in aiding the Council improve services to the youth of Hedland.
Graham Kennedy was awarded Male Elder of the Year for his dedication and passionate work with Indigenous people in assisting them into relevant training and employment, while building meaningful relationships with the community and industry.
Graham was also known for giving his support to young people in cultural and traditional learning, and was always regarded as a deeply compassionate people-person.
The Scholar of the Year award went to Katie Papertalk who made history in 2011 for becoming one of the first Aboriginal people in the Pilbara Health service to graduate from Charles Sturt University in Wagga Wagga, NSW with a Bachelor of Health Science in Mental Health.
Katie has worked for the WA Country Health Service for the past 24 years in Port Hedland, and was recently commended by Mental health Minister Helen Morton for furthering the Aboriginal Mental health Service in WA and helping create new career pathways for workers in the field.
Nellie McGowan went away with the Apprentice of the Year trophy and is in her second year of training to become a qualified train driver with BHP Billiton Iron Ore, while also working in the community as a youth advocate with the Youth Involvement Council; Vice President of the local Netball Association as well as an A grade player and coach of a junior side.
The Sportsperson of the year was presented to Napau Levi for his dedication to the youth of junior rugby where he has constantly played an active role in mentoring young people through the sport and continuously providing support and guidance.
Clinton Taylor was successful as Artist of the Year, working alongside linguists at the Wangka Maya Language centre creating illustrations for many Aboriginal language publications, developing plans for art projects and able to visualise an artistic theme for many projects and take this vision through to a series of hauntingly beautiful, imaginative and original art works.